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Cottage of Hope

Schoolteacher Natilie Chambers-Alexander gave alms in silence long before the home for girls she co-founded with the late Dan Samuel was registered in 2009. The duo regularly distributed food packages to shut-in and needy persons from their own funds, and they held back-to-school events, providing staples for underserved youth.

Then the 20-year-teaching veteran, after noticing a disturbing pattern with one of her students, intervened. The girl and her younger sister ended up moving in with Chambers-Alexander, who at that time already had a foster son.

The doors to her modest home were open to girls in need, and she was further committed to helping how she could, wherever she could. In 2009, a social worker attached to the Welfare Division asked for her help in finding a home for three sisters. When Chambers-Alexander came up empty-handed, she took in the girls. That marked the official start of Cottage of Hope.

Cottage of Hope is a registered non-profit, non-denominational Christian organization founded in March 2009. Co-founder Samuel, a former teacher, died suddenly a few months later, but his legacy endures.

Cottage of Hope offers short-and-long term residency to girls who are abused, neglected or orphaned. Since inception, the organization has housed 36 girls and one boy, and has helped scores more.

On the record, Cottage of Hope accepts residents from babies 14 to years of age, and although the upper age for housing is 18, young women willing to comply with the rules may stay for as long as they must.

The organization has a strict privacy policy, which aims to bring normality to abnormal situations. Anonymity for the girls, as much as they can have, is important for obvious reasons. Some of the residents have matters pending before the courts; others have disturbing histories; some, especially the teenagers, don’t want their peers to know their living situation; and the directors want to protect them as best as they can from the spotlight and the stigma that can attach to people in their circumstances.

This means that everyone and especially Chambers-Alexander, the housemother, is cautious and deliberate. Benefactors may be approved to visit the girls, but they must commit things to memory. There are no photo opportunities, no media publicity in return for donations, and Chambers-Alexander keeps a low profile. Her visage is not anywhere to be found – she doesn’t want people connecting the dots to the girls in her care through her. Moreover, everyone working with or on behalf of the organization must adopt the same circumspection.

The board members of Cottage of Hope are Neil Joseph, chairperson; Natilie Chambers-Alexander; Andy Alexander; Tich Smith; Sharon Daniell; and Inspector Timothy Drew. The Board makes all major decisions regarding the running of the home.

Cottage of Hope, with the aid of funds raised by Team Antigua Island Girls, plans to offer expanded services to young women who have come of age who are transitioning from a group home setting to living on their own.

Too often because of limited services, those who age out of the system return to the same or similar situations from which they were initially removed. The expanded services will be open to all in need and not just those who reside at Cottage of Hope.

Interested persons may reach the organization at cottageofhope2009@outlook.com.

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